Josh Berman '05 Helps Bring Science and Policy Together for Better Public Health
Many biology students with an interest in health aspire to medical school. When Josh Berman ’05 was studying biology and chemistry at Florida Southern, he looked at his career path differently. He was interested in public health administration.
“Physicians make huge differences in their patient’s lives. I was interested in health more at the policy level. How do we set up the complex systems medical care requires to see the biggest impact for the greater number of beneficiaries,” he said.
Berman credits now-retired Biology Prof. Bob Baum with encouraging him to pursue his interest in public health.
“I received the Baum Scholarship, and Dr. Baum was instrumental in pushing me to further studies,” he said.
Berman went on to earn a master’s degree in public health from Boston University with a concentration in international health and spent three years working in the Southern African nation of Lesotho as Associate Director of the Lesotho Boston Health Alliance. His responsibilities included assisting a team of 25 local and international workers to develop the country’s first postgraduate family physician training program, as well as directing a clinical quality improvement program at Lesotho’s Northern Regional Referral Hospital.
A native of Canada, Berman returned to North America to get married and took a position as senior research officer for Dignitas International, a nonprofit organization based in Toronto, Ontario, whose objective is to create sustainable improvements in public health throughout Southern Africa, primarily in Malawi.
Berman administers two projects for Dignitas. One is the Knowledge Translation Platform, a forum that allows routine dialogue between government officials and researchers and provides training to both parties so health care decisions – such as which drug regimens should be prescribed or when testing for various conditions should be initiated – are made based on evidence.
He also spends about a third of his time on the ground with mobile community health units in Malawi, observing and conducting interviews in order to find out what works best and what needs further support.
It is work that utilizes the scientific training he received at FSC and his passion for public health.
“It’s an organization I really feel lucky to be part of. I’m the link between the research scientists and our field team,” he said.